Pune: After 25 Years On Death Row, Convict In Rathi Family Murder Case To Walk Free

Supreme Court of India
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Pune/ New Delhi, 28th March 2023: The Supreme Court has ordered the release of Narayan Chetanram Chaudhary, who has spent 25 years on death row at the Yerwada Central Prison in the Rathi family murder case, on the grounds that he was just 12 years old at the time of the crime.

Chaudhary was sentenced to death after being found guilty of involvement in the murder of six members of the Rathi family and their domestic help at their second-floor flat in Himanshu Apartment at Shilavihar Colony, Paud Phata, Kothrud in 1994. Victims included a pregnant woman and two children.

Chaudhary has now been granted a new lease of life after the court concluded that his claim of juvenility was true. According to defence lawyer Harshad Nimbalkar, it will take three to four days to complete the formalities before Chaudhary can be released. The court had ordered an inquiry into Chaudhary’s age after he filed a review petition before the Supreme Court, claiming that he was a minor at the time of the crime. The probe revealed that he was aged around 12 years at the time.

After his release, he will have spent a total of 28 years behind bars. The gruesome crime took place on August 26, 1994, when the Rathi family and their domestic help were hacked to death at their second-floor flat.

Raju Rajpurohit, Jitendra Gehlot and Narayan Chaudhari – all natives of Rajasthan – were alleged to have been involved in the offence. The murders were committed to wipe out all evidence of robbery and theft committed by the accused. Raju Rajpurohit, who later turned approver, was sentenced to life imprisonment, and Jitendra Gehlot and Narayan Chaudhary were sentenced to death after a full trial.

Gehlot’s death penalty was later reduced to life imprisonment in October 2016. However, Chaudhary withdrew his mercy plea and filed a review petition before the Supreme Court, claiming to have been a minor at the time of the crime. He supported his claim with his school records from Rajasthan discovered in 2015.

The court ordered an inquiry into his age, and after completing all the formalities, Chaudhary is expected to be released from prison.

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